University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

News Article


By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Few species of foliage plants offer the diversity of leaf size, shape, color, and texture of peperomias (pep-er-roh-mee-uhz). These members of the pepper family are highly decorative houseplants that are native to tropical America.

Many kinds of peperomias can be purchased at garden centers. Some of the most common are emerald ripple, variegated, pepper face, trailing, and watermelon.

Peperomias vary consistently in appearance. Most are dwarf and compact, rarely exceeding 12 inches in height. Some species have thread-like trailing stems, while others have thick, succulent, upright stems. Some species are particularly well suited for hanging baskets or dish gardens.

Leaf shapes may vary from heart-shaped to lance-shaped although the most common peperomias have rounded leaves. Colors may range from solid green to striped or marbled. Leaves may be outlined in pale green, yellow, creamy white, red, or gray. The leaf stems of some types are red or pinkish.

Peperomias may be grown in pots, shallow pans (dish gardens), or in hanging baskets. A soil composed of peat moss, loam, or sand, or any soil mixture with good drainage can be used.

The soil should not be overly fertile. This causes excessive growth. Mild feedings of a houseplant fertilizer every six months are usually ample. Peperomias, as a rule, should be kept slightly pot-bound.

Don't let the soil for peperomias get too moist as these plants are highly susceptible to stem and root rot and to oedema, a non-parasitic disease that appears as corky, raised swellings on the undersides of leaves. Water only when the soil is quite dry. Drench the soil thoroughly.

These plants thrive in bright light although they will tolerate poor light even at high temperatures. Variegated leaves, however, lose their coloration in poor light.

Avoid direct sun in summer. Peperomias do well in average to warm temperatures during the day, and a minimum night temperature of 60 to 65 degrees F.

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